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The real issues are these: why has the RMOW chosen to, once again, shoot itself in the foot by trying to play hide the ball while paying the flimsiest lip service to principles of open, honest and transparent government? And what is really behind the "legal" opinion they're wrapping themselves in to keep from exercising their municipal muscle and giving the asphalt plant the boot?
I can't begin to answer the first question. I vacillate between negligence and duplicity as possible answers with a bias toward duplicity. I don't know why the hall shined us on. I don't know why they thought - again - they could get away with doing so or that it would serve their interests. I don't know why they weren't up front with the public and I don't know to what extent the mayor and council were in the loop. But I do know it stinks worse than hot asphalt.
It wasn't that long ago we were told by muni hall the only relevant document that existed relating to the asphalt plant was a single, unenlightening memo.
That was before a Freedom of Information request was dropped on them.
Turns out that was either (a) a lie, or (b) a sucker play. There were more documents. They outlined a request, dating back to 1998, to rezone the land to permit the production of asphalt and concrete. After batting that one around between the Advisory Planning Commission, staff and council, no rezoning was granted and the request was withdrawn.
As we know, that didn't stop the asphalt plant from spontaneously generating on the site. And so, the Nixonian question rears its ugly head: who knew what and when did they know it.
Here's a possible answer. In the real world, sometimes it's easier and more expeditious to ask forgiveness than seek approval. Since seeking approval wasn't getting anywhere, why not just fire the sucker up and ask forgiveness when and if anybody other than the plant itself raised a stink? After all, the only neighbours in the area were the landfill and the poo plant. Who cared? Given the acrimonious relations between the person seeking rezoning and muni hall, I'm bettin' withdrawing the zoning request was just a strategic "f#*k you, I'll do what I want."
If I were an overworked muni staffer, I wouldn't have given a damn about an illegal asphalt plant operating down near the dump and sewage plant. Hell, I had an Olympics to get ready for and we all know nothing was more important.